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Marijuana after weight loss surgery


Regardless of how marijuana is taken (i.e. smoked, inhaled or eaten) the effects are the same. The majority of people who use marijuana describe a sensation of relaxation and euphoria (the “high”). Some people however react badly to the drug which can result in a state of panic, anxiousness and fear, or in some cases even hallucinations if they take too much.

Of particular relevance to bariatric or weight loss surgery, is the fact that marijuana impacts the part of your brain that controls appetite. Have you heard of the “munchies”? Yep, that’s right, the “munchies” are a real thing! Marijuana can increase your appetite, causing you to eat more, which obviously is not great if your goal is weight loss.

Interestingly, a recent study on weight and marijuana use actually showed that marijuana use may very slightly (and we mean VERY slightly) reduce body weight (about a 0.5% reduction in BMI) (1). This study however was conducted on a group of people with an average BMI of 27 kg/m2, which is way below the average bariatric or weight loss surgery patients’ BMI pre-surgery. This unfortunately means that this mild weight loss effect cannot be applied to the typical bariatric or weight loss surgery patient.

We did however find one recent study done in 2016 that is more relevant to the bariatric or weight loss surgery population (2). The study was run on a group of 50 patients (62% being RYGB patients) all 2 years after surgery. The results of the study showed that the patients who had smoked marijuana within the last 30 days and the patients who had started smoking more since surgery, were all more likely to have disordered eating habits, specifically “loss of controlled food intake” (2). Although the study did not look at weight outcomes related to marijuana use, we know that disordered eating habits such as grazing and bingeing are risk factors for weight regain after bariatric or weight loss surgery.

We asked a Canadian-based bariatric surgeon for his opinion on the subject of marijuana use after surgery. Here is what he said:

“Although currently there is a lack of available research on the effects of marijuana on the bariatric surgery population, there are a few concerns to note. Regular marijuana use could increase the risk of postoperative complications including bleeding, infection and pulmonary embolism. Secondly, THC increases feelings of hunger, thus the degree of weight loss post-surgery may suffer due to continued marijuana use.” Dr. Simon Chow, Bariatric Surgeon, MD MSc FRCSC FACS

In conclusion, we do not yet fully understand the effects of marijuana use after surgery with respect to weight loss and longer term weight maintenance outcomes. The field of research is still very young (3). Regular marijuana use however may pose medical risks after surgery, therefore speak with your surgeon if you have been prescribed marijuana for medical reasons. Furthermore, if you choose to use marijuana for recreational reasons on a regular basis, it is worth discussing this habit with your bariatric nurse and dietitian.

– Monica & Lisa

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References:

1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hec.3267/full

2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550728915002063

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24913244



My personal take on it is simple. If you are going to all this trouble to become healthy and take control of your life why would you smoke something that we know damages lung tissue. Any time you take in anything other than air in your lungs there are negative consequences. It would seem to me to make no sense to waste every ones time that helps us in the life style change if you are just going to continue with what can easily be defined as a bad habit. NOW HOLD ON BEFORE YOU JUMP ON ME! My view is pointed to the recreational user mainly. I am not going to even engage the debate of the medical uses

Edited by Waler

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On 11/15/2017 at 8:39 AM, Waler said:

My personal take on it is simple. If you are going to all this trouble to become healthy and take control of your life why would you smoke something that we know damages lung tissue. Any time you take in anything other than air in your lungs there are negative consequences. It would seem to me to make no sense to waste every ones time that helps us in the life style change if you are just going to continue with what can easily be defined as a bad habit. NOW HOLD ON BEFORE YOU JUMP ON ME! My view is pointed to the recreational user mainly. I am not going to even engage the debate of the medical uses

My opinion and i'm sure this could be debated forever.

There are many other ways to enjoy this recreationally other than smoking. Specifically in those areas where it has been legalized. While I do agree on the smoking aspect, blanketing this as a bad habit isn't fair. Is having a glass of wine to relax or be social a bad habit? Now if we are talking ever single day, then maybe, I mean same for alcohol or anything else.

All things in moderation.

Its not realistic to think that people, specifically those of us with weight problems to have surgery and never drink, never partake in recreation marijuana or whatever vice we may have ever again.

just my $.02

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We're probably a generation too early to have dependable, complete, and replicated study data on which to base truly informed decisions around this. The initial indications match some intuitively obvious concepts. "Munchies" is a real thing, and that's not good for any form of weight loss.

There are, however, strains of cannabis that have varying effects (Indica vs. Sativa; head vs. body; energetic vs. lethargic; and so on). So while some broad generalizations are to be expected, it may be more helpful for folks to consider their options with more granular detail. If you intend to partake, do your research carefully and collect reviews (and products) from reputable sources. Look into specific strains and hybrid types and only go with those that have the specific attributes that you seek. Avoid the ones that are targeted at "appetite enhancement" or similar goals. For a patient undergoing chemotherapy, that's a really helpful thing. For a patient who is pursuing weight loss, not so much.

Health and positive outcomes to you all!

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